I haven’t met anybody who would ask you to sit your pet still while they are painting them 🙂 – majority of us paint/draw from photo. There are two parts of success with commissioned pet portraits – artist’s talent and a photo you provide. Some will say it’s 50:50 ration, some will say 70:30, but even if the good photo is only 30% of success, do you really want to get 70% good portrait? no, I want a solid 100, please. Yes, of course! you have every right to!
There are a few things to think about choosing a photo:
I’m not going to bore you with resolution math. Think about it this way – less detailed photo means artist has to guess all the details: eyes, eye lashes, nostrils, whiskers – I mean isn’t the essence of cuteness? Strict guidance is this – NO MOBILE PHONE PICTURES. Grab a digital camera, doesn’t have to be fancy professional gear, just not the phone. Yes, I’m aware of some great mobile phone cameras, that’s why there is less strict guidance – if you blow your photo up to fit your 15′ computer screen and you are still able to see all the eyelashes and whiskers as lines (not little chains of squares), you are probably good.
I know how adorable they can be all rolled up in a fluffy ball or stretched out on a loan on a sunny day – it’s very moving. Very cute. But portrait is a classy thing, don’t you agree? So think about a human portrait pose – HEAD AND CHEST is your strict guideline. But again if you want to be less classy, suggest a few photos, discuss with the artist – we are always open to ideas! just make sure both eyes are visible and looking at the cameraman. And that head occupies more then 1/3 of the whole picture.
Here are some good examples:
Lighting will affect your pet’s fur colour. Electric light or outdoor light on a sunny day will make it warmer, luminescent light will make it cooler, flash is pure evil and will change the colour dramatically! Strict guideline – take the picture outside in a natural light on a cloudy day. It will give us most realistic colours and make our life so much easier! you can’t imagine!
If for some reason the above is not possible (sometimes they are no longer around, for a sad example), send what you have but include DIFFERENT LIGHTING situations – indoors, outdoors, on sunny days and not so sunny.
This is the same cat, but pictures taken in different light:
Notice how different she looks! fur colour, eyes, contrast… If I have never met your pet and had to guess based on a photo, there can be two very different results here.
I do my best to accommodate every client and work with what we have. I had positive outcome working from very bad low resolution photos, combining a few photos (colour from one, pose – from another) etc. It is possible! But there is a risk that likeness will be compromised. So if you are stuck with not so great photos choose your artist carefully, ask their opinion and be prepared to pay a little more for all their hard work putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to go ahead and do it. In my experience portrait usually exceeds the expectations anyway and if it’s a gift, they will be head over hills in love with it!